It’s been a long time coming, but Apple has officially begun closing the chapter on iTunes after 18 long years. At the Worldwide Developer's Conference (WWDC), Apple announced that Catalina, the next version of the macOS would omit iTunes in favor of three separate desktop apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV.
The move to phase out iTunes after its almost two-decades long run did not come as a huge surprise to most people. Music, TV, and podcasts have had their dedicated places for a while now, and an all-encompassing hub like iTunes just started to feel a bit overwhelming. Apple even poked fun at the laundry list of capabilities it tacked onto iTunes over the years and said their team was “considering” adding a calendar, web browsing, and email functionality to the app.
Despite its downfall, iTunes truly had a good run. It entered the world at a time when piracy and file-sharing sites were plaguing the music industry, and turned us into more honest music listeners. For the longest time, iTunes dominated the digital download space with its 99-cent tracks from top artists around the world. As the years went on though, streaming services became the preferred way to access entertainment, and the need for a buy-to-own platform like iTunes seemed much less valuable.
Beyond its entertainment capabilities, iTunes was also known for its ability to sync and manage devices. With the platform out of commission, users will now perform these functions within the sidebar located in Finder. Apple also noted that when you plug an Apple device into a Mac with the latest update, nothing will pop up meaning devices will essentially work the same as a USB.
Although they didn’t address this on stage, CNN Business got the scoop on the fate of purchases made within the iTunes store. Apple told CNN that “previous purchases and libraries will be maintained in each new app on Mac computers.” Apple also noted that they do not currently have any plans to end support for iTunes on Windows though that might change in the unforeseeable future, and Windows users could also be forced to download Apple’s trio of apps. As for iTunes gift cards, Apple also confirmed with CNN Business that those will remain active, and users will be able to purchase songs, movies and TV shows in their respective apps.